Malta Freeport to expand outermost terminal to cater for larger container ships

Malta Freeport will be expanding its capacity by extending Terminal 2 in an agreement with government that sees it give up its right to install cranes on the quay closest to residents

Malta Freeport Terminals has signed an agreement with the government for the expansion of Terminal 2
Malta Freeport Terminals has signed an agreement with the government for the expansion of Terminal 2

Malta Freeport Terminals will be carrying out its first terminal expansion in two decades by squaring off its outermost quay to accommodate mega containerships.

The agreement with the government was signed on Thursday after parliament had earlier this year approved a resolution for a change in the lease agreement.

In February, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri had said government obtained state aid clearance to finance half the cost of the infrastructural works, estimated at €55 million, needed to reclaim the land. In exchange, government asked for a change in the lease agreement through which new conditions were imposed on the company.

A condition included in the arrangement will see the Freeport give up its right to install cranes on the quay in Terminal 1 closest to Birżebbuġa residents once the project is complete. Another condition will impose a ban on roll-on roll-off (ships that carry trucks and trailers) activity during night time.

The project will extend the north quay at Terminal 2 by 176 metres and the west quay by 195 metres. This will enable the facility to handle new and future LNG-powered mega containerships which are already more than four football pitches in length and carry 23,000 TEU containers.

Announcing the agreement at a press conference with Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, Freeport CEO Alex Montebello described the Terminal 2 extension as a win-win situation for everyone.

“The expansion is good for our facility’s capability to handle the world’s largest container ships with maximum efficiency, and for the Birżebbuġa residents, importers and exporters, who will benefit from more services than ever before,” Montebello said.

He added that the project will also generate more than 160 new jobs and take the investment in the facility since privatisation past the €400 million mark. “This makes the Freeport one of the biggest ever investors in Maltese history.”

The Freeport has already  undertaken a €320 million strategic investment programme in state-of-the-art machinery and equipment. 

Recent acquisitions include two giant megamax quay cranes, the most technologically advanced and environmentally-friendly on the market capable of handling mega containerships, as well as the latest IT systems which make it possible to plan and execute operations with maximum efficiency.

The Freeport offers services to 120 ports worldwide – more than 50 of which are in the Mediterranean – on several mainline services operated by major shipping lines. It was recently named by the prestigious shipping publication Lloyds List among the top 10 ports in the world in terms of growth in percentage terms.

The facility, which handles almost three million TEU containers per year, provides direct employment for more than 1,500 people and contributes €170 million to Malta’s economy.

The extension agreement also obliges the company to make an additional contribution to the community of €300,000 as part of its ongoing commitment to the neighbourhood.